Thursday, December 18, 2008

Defamation Lawyer: Traverse Internet Law Federal Court Report: November 2008 Defamation Lawsuits


The facts are unproven allegations of the Plaintiff and all commentary is based upon the allegations, the truthfulness and accuracy of which are likely in dispute.


CHRISTOPHER ZAMMITO AND ZAMMITO AUTOMOTIVE GROUP, INC. v. RICHARD HAVRDA
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSSETTS (BOSTON)
1:08-CV-11936
FILED: 11/19/2008

Part of evaluating a "cyberspace attack" is understanding the entire scope and extent of the alleged misconduct. Most "free speech" websites are motivated by greed and not by the noble causes that gave rise to the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Plaintiff is the owner of a retail automotive dealership. Defendant is a former employee of Plaintiff. Defendant is alleged to have been terminated as a salesperson and, in response, he purchased the domain name "zammitoautogroup.com" and thereafter placed derogatory and defamatory statements about the Plaintiffs on the site. In addition, he is alleged to have posted private photographs of the individual owner of the dealership on the site, sexually explicit and highly inappropriate comments about the dealership, the principals and their families on the site, and overall carried on a campaign of disparaging the products and services of the Plaintiff and the individuals and families of the owners of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant offered to sell the Plaintiff the domain name for $1,200.00 and a $100.00 restaurant gift certificate recently.

The lawsuit alleges cybersquatting, trademark infringement, and defamation. The Plaintiff requested an award of compensatory damages, its attorneys' fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1249.


FORBA HOLDINGS, LLC v. DEBBIE HAGAN
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY (OWENSBORO)
4:08-CV-00137
FILED: 11/14/2008

This Defendant appears to have launched a full-scale cyber-attack on the Plaintiff's company. Defamation, of course, is not protected by free speech or the first amendment. If these allegations are true this case is another in the long line of examples of how an individual located somewhere in the world can personally cause very serious damage to a business.

Forba Holdings is a limited liability company operating out of Nashville, Tennessee and is the nation's largest dental practice management company. Defendant Debbie Hagan is a resident of Kentucky and operates an Internet website and blog titled "Dentist the Menace" as well as YouTube video hosting channel titled "Abusive Pediatric Dentistry". Without going into details, the Defendant is alleged to be a rather prolific critic of the Plaintiff, having posted rather extreme claims including alleged torture, abuses, and the intentional traumatization of four families and children, all attributed to the Plaintiff. The final straw apparently came when the Defendant obtained confidential, internal, strategic and tactical trade secret documents and published those or linked to those documents from her websites.

She has been sued for misappropriation of trade secrets, copyright infringement, and defamation. The complaint requests an award of compensatory damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorneys' fees, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interests, post-judgment interests, and the entry of extensive preliminary and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting the Defendant from continuing with her publications as they relate to the distribution of trade secrets or copyright infringing materials. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1250.


ASH BUCKLES v. BRIDES CLUB, ET AL
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF UTAH
2:08-CV-00849
FILED: 11/04/2008

The Plaintiff, being an expert SEO, was able to identify exactly what was transpiring and act quickly to attempt to address the problems. As a business it is critical that you constantly monitor search engine results and the content of the web as it relates to your business and key trademarks to quickly identify this type of an attack and deal with it before it causes irreversible damage.
Plaintiff Ash Buckles is in the business of improving the client's Internet marketing results. In other words, he is a "SEO". The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant contaminated his Google search results by impersonating him, opening up a blog, acquiring three domains in his name, and establishing a fraudulent "LinkedIn" profile. These "impersonating websites" included legitimate information mixed in with false, misleading, poorly written content that reflected adversely on the Plaintiff's abilities as an Internet marketing expert.

The Plaintiff sued for cybersquatting, trademark infringement through false designation, tortious interference with prospective economic relations, cyberterrorism under Utah law, unauthorized access (hacking) and abuse of personal identity under Utah law. Although we have categorized it as a defamation case there is no specific claim alleging defamation. The Plaintiff requests entry of an order for statutory damages in the amount of $100,000.00 per domain name, punitive damages, and temporary and permanent injunctive relief addressing the alleged misconduct of the Defendants, as well as an award of attorneys' fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1251.


BFN, LLC AND JANE DOE v. DAVID ELMS, ET AL
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA (LOS ANGELES)
2:08-CV-07285
FILED: 11/03/2008

If you are acting in an illegal manner you cannot avail yourself of rights to protect that illegal enterprise through the courts. Does this mean that if your business is involved in illegal criminal activity, whether you know it or not, you are "fair game" for any type of misconduct to be visited upon you and your business? That is an interesting issue that will continue to be developed over time, but for right now, I used the "unclean hands" argument successfully in Washington State in a similar case to obtain the dismissal of a lawsuit against my client. Again, always look for the commercial motivation involved in the publication of "sucks" or "the truth about" websites. Although it is sometimes difficult to see, these types of sites are almost always financially motivated.

The Plaintiff is an "escort". Defendant owns and operates a website that advertises the services of escorts and Plaintiff claims that when she refused to advertise on the website the Defendant undertook a campaign to disparage her reputation by using her real name in a "the truth about" website, which is a variation of a "sucks" attack website. Defendants are alleged to have emailed Plaintiff's father and undertaken a number of other actions that revealed her true personal information, creating a very dangerous environment for the Plaintiff.

The lawsuit includes a count for copyright infringement, cybersquatting in violation of a California state statute, violations of the right of publicity, defamation, state privacy law violations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. Plaintiff requests the entry of a permanent injunction, an award of actual damages and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs, and requests a trial by jury. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1252.

1 comment:

cury said...

Just an FYI....the case of FORBA Holdings v Hagan is over and FORBA lost...or shall we say dismissed.